There is a saying that goes something like, "Everyone is a perfect parent until they actually have kids."
Man, I used to be an amazing mom. I was in peak physical condition. I was endlessly patient and never had angry outbursts. My five imaginary children were dressed in smart, quirky, dapper clothes; they were quiet, polite, and well-behaved. They picked up after themselves, never pitched fits in public, and never ate McDonald's. Our house was not perfectly immaculate, but there was a place for everything and everything was usually in its place. We were always doing fun crafts and projects. I didn't have a job; instead, I stayed home and cooked them every single meal and snack. (I was also overly judgmental of other parents, but I'll save that for another post)
In reality, my house is a mess. There are dishes in the sink consistently. My three rowdy, spunky, pizza-loving boys live mostly in hand-me-down clothing. I work a lot. I yell sometimes. I haven't lost the baby weight.
But our messy house teaches them that there are more important things to us than making sure all the dust bunnies die. The used clothing helps us to be less attached to material possessions. My work enriches our family in SO many ways. After I yell, I have an opportunity to talk to them about how my brain is easily overstimulated and that it's ok to apologize when we've messed up. My softer body is a great excuse to plant the values of body positivity.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that trying to be the mother I always imagined I would be was making me (and everyone else in our family) completely miserable. I surrendered to the deeper knowledge of my own identity and began to recognize that for me, being something else (like a business owner, doula, and childbirth educator) didn't mean that I was less of a mom.
I adapted. I grew. Our family adjusted. And we are all better off for it.
No, I'm not the mother I wanted to be. But I'm the very best mom for our kids.